About a year ago, I bought a couple of basil plants that come in small pots at the supermarket. They grew fine for a while but now a year later it has become quite stemmy and if I do anything with it, it threatens to die. I water it about once a week, and spray on some liquid fertiliser. It is kept indoors, temperature is about 20-22 degrees centigrade outdoors at the moment. I was watering it more frequently but I think it started to rot the root structure. It is planted in peaty soil. I really thought the warm weather would give it a boost but it is not doing much better than it was during the winter.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated

  • 2
    It is amazing that you've grown this one plant this long, eeijar. You need a new 'crop'! Plants have lifespans. Annuals are very short. Once they make seed they've done their job in this life. So cutting off flowers and seed asap really lengthens their life span as well as motivating them to produce a larger more vigorous plant. Make sure to use only sterilized potting soil. Do not transfer a plant from indoors to out of doors and viseversa without acclimation. Truly, you kept a produce section basil alive over a year?
    – stormy
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 20:48
  • @stormy: thanks for the advice! yes, it's alive but barely... it has looked terminal for most of that period but there are still a few green leaves there. I haven't taken a leaf from it for a long time, it would have been unfair considering how poorly it has been doing.
    – eeijlar
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 21:36

3 Answers 3


Basil is actually an annual plant, meaning it only lasts and is productive for up to a year. You can sometimes keep them going longer indoors, but it becomes more and more difficult to get a useful amount of leaves from it. Best to buy another one I'm afraid, or grow your own from seed https://www.thekitchn.com/what-to-know-about-growing-basil-245090


It might be too late for these plants to recover, so buying new ones is probably best.

They might recover, assuming they have sufficient light, water & air circulation & by pruning off the excess. You may also be over-watering & over-fertilizing.

If they do recover, you could improve their appearance by clipping an entire part of a stem just above a leaf node (always do this when harvesting basil), rather than just picking leaves. Doing so will promote new growth & branching.

Also clipping any stems that start to flower will extend the productive life.

Anecdotally, I've kept basil plants going indoors under grow lights with good air circulation for in excess of 2 years. Granted I'd undoubtedly get better yields if I'd stop being lazy & just start some new plants.


Basil can grow very fast in an aquaponic setting, but it needs to have nutrients to grow.

If you let a stem get long you can trim them, and put them in water to root as you're propagating new plants.

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